The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) will be the main isolation facility for suspect, probable, and confirmed monkeypox cases, the Department of Health said Thursday.
The DOH indicated that its Field Implementation and Coordination Team (FICT) and the One Hospital Command Center (OHCC) are working on the specific designation of isolation facilities with the priority to ensure compliance with requirements.
“According to DOH Department Memorandum 2022-0220 Interim Technical Guidelines for the Implementation of Monkeypox Surveillance Screening, Management, and Infection Control, during the activation of Doors 1 and 2 of DOH’s 4-Door Alert System, the RITM is hereby designated as the main isolation facility for suspect, probable, and confirmed monkeypox cases,” the department noted.
On Wednesday, the health department announced it would carry out a four-door strategy, which is the framework of the National Emergency Operational Response Plan to prevent and control emerging infectious diseases.
The FICT and the OHCC shall designate the regional isolation facilities and hospitals catering to other international points of entry.
All government hospitals shall prepare an area for isolation and treatment facilities when Doors 3 and 4 are activated.
“Cases shall be immediately isolated in a private room, preferably with negative air pressure, until signs and symptoms have been resolved,” the DOH said in the message.
Earlier, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the government was closely monitoring global developments about monkeypox as it intensifies the country’s border screening.
Health experts say monkeypox is not deadly and its spread is easier to prevent compared to Covid-19.
Vaccines against smallpox may be used to avoid monkeypox and there are proven medications.
Monkeypox starts with fever, then general body aches, malaise, and muscle ache with the first symptoms similar to influenza.
In related developments, the Geneva, Switzerland-based World Health Organization (WHO) said severe cases of monkeypox, a virus transmitted from animals to humans, may affect the younger age group more than others.
“Severe cases occur more commonly among children and are related to the extent of virus exposure, patient health status, and nature of complications. Underlying immune deficiencies may lead to worse outcomes,” WHO said.
“The case fatality ratio of monkeypox has historically ranged from 0 to 11 % in the general population and has been higher among young children. In recent times, the case fatality ratio has been around 3–6 percent,” it added.
The Department of Health, itself, said there were no specific age groups specifically easily infected by the monkeypox.
But it pointed out, referring to the same WHO data, that people younger than 40 to 50 years old might be more susceptible to the virus “due to cessation of smallpox vaccination campaigns globally after eradication of the disease.”
Amid this threat, the DOH said there is no Philippine Food and Drug Administration-approved and authorized vaccine against monkeypox yet, but noted that smallpox vaccines may work through “cross protection,” as well as the adherence to health protocols.
Meanwhile, the number of confirmed cases of monkeypox worldwide has reached 219 outside of countries where it is endemic, according to an update released by the European Union’s disease agency.
More than a dozen countries where monkeypox is unusual, mostly in Europe, have reported at least one confirmed case, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said in an epidemiological note released Wednesday night.
“This is the first time that chains of transmission are reported in Europe without known epidemiological links to West or Central Africa, where this disease is endemic,” the note said.
It added that most of the cases were detected in young men, self-identifying as men who have sex with men.
The United Kingdom — where monkeypox’s unusual appearance was first detected in early May — currently has the largest bulk of confirmed cases, 71.
It is followed by Spain with 51 cases and Portugal, 37.
Outside of Europe, Canada has 15 and the United States has nine.
The total number of cases reported Wednesday has increased fivefold since its first count on May 20, when the EU agency said there were 38 cases.
Contagion risk is “very low”, the ECDC said earlier this week, but warned that people who have had multiple sexual partners — regardless of sexual orientation — are more at risk.
“The clinical presentation is generally described to be mild,” it said, adding that there have been no deaths.